Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Yellow-legged Gull at Shoreham (26 July)

Wednesday 26 July. I took Cookie down to Shoreham Harbour where a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull was sitting on the very end of the West Arm with a few young Herring Gulls and a Great Black-back. It was my first of the summer and most welcome, although hardly surprsing with gull enthusiasts having seen juveniles recently at Eastbourne, Beachy, Newhaven and even Selsey. I tried some phone scoped photos most of which were dreadful but a few come out after a fashion. I had a bit more success digiscoping with a pocket camera and even better walking up and using my Bridge Camera although I didn't get the flight shots I had hoped for. Also seen were 2 Oystercatchers and 2 Sandwich Terns. We went on to Widewater where the Mute Swan family (2 adults and 4 full-sized cygnets) were on the lagoon. By now it was raining but it was low tide so we walked back along the exposed sand. Here the Yellow-legged Gull, or another very similar looking individual, was stabbing at a washed up eel. It flew off at our approach but settled further down the beach although photos were poor looking directly into the rain. A brief stop at the Adur produced no waders and 100+ mainly adult Herring Gulls. It was then time to visit the Post Office and the dentist ...
Yellow-legged Gull at Shoreham Harbour, one of my better (more fluky) attempts at phone scoping

shows the elongated rear, small head, darkish mask and mean-looking bill
nice white edges to mantle feathers, coverts and tertials
digiscoped image with juvenile Great Black-backed Gull for comparison
moving closer with the Bridge Camera, juvenile Herring Gull for comparison


Yellow-legged Gull at Widewater in the rain
if it wasn't the same bird it looked very similar
it appears less contrasting due to the film of water on my camera lens!
dead eel washed up on Widewater Beach. The Yellow-legged Gull was pecking at it but despite its heavy bill it wasn't making much of an impression
Tuesday 25 July. No sign of any Great Black-backed Gulls on the roofs but 2 adults and at least 2 youngsters were flying over Middle Road when I cycled off to work.

Monday 24 July. A pair of Mute Swans with three cygnets were by the lock-gates when I came home from work. The Great Black-backed Gull family appears to have left the roofs behind our house with none seen before or after work. Just one Swift over the garden although I only looked a couple of times.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Crowlink and Belle Tout (23 July)

Sunday 23 July. Megan and I took Cookie for a walk from Crowlink to Belle Tout. It is a nice circuit with the potential for something interesting although that is unlikely in July. And so it seemed this time until a Cuckoo flew out from bushes by the lower path just east of Belle Tout. It landed in a tree half way up to the lighthouse, sat for long enough for me to reach for my camera but not to find it in the viewfinder. My first at Beachy since August 2014 and according to LP only the second this season. Otherwise it was very quiet, our not arriving much before 09:00 probably not helping. I saw single Little Egret, Peregrine, Swallow and Corn Bunting, 6 Meadow Pipits, 7 Stonechats and 2 Ravens. The Great Black-backed Gull family were still present, the youngsters not having moved from their new roof. 
Raven along the cliff edge
Megan and Cookie
Saturday 22 July. I took Cookie on a two hour circuit from Lancing Ring to Cowbottom, Coombes and Steep Down. Nice weather and views but rather quiet for birds. I saw Sparrowhawk, 85 Swifts, Green Woodpecker, 10 Sky Larks, 45 Swallows, 20 House Martins, Meadow Pipit, 6 Whitethroats and 16 Corn Buntings. The Great Black-backed Gull family were still present, the youngsters after last evenings trials had moved onto the roof to the south - crossing a gap of about three feet! Seven Swifts over the house.
juvenile Swallow at Cowbottom

Cissbury from Steep Down
Corn Bunting on Steep Down 

Truleigh Hill from Steep Down
Great Black-backed Gulls having moved roof
Friday 21 July. Megan and I took Cookie to Chantry Hill and we walked along the South Downs Way to Rackham Hill and back. Seven Yellowhammers were sinning and we saw single Red Kite, Swift and Raven. Later a Hobby flew west over the Adur while it was an otherwise typica visit - two Little Egrets, two Oystercatchers and under 100 mainly Herring and Black-headed Gulls. Ahead of a storm in the evening a flock of at least 70 Swifts were over the house, I often think they are at thier brilliant best in rough weather. Almost until dark the three young Great Black-backed Gulls were distracting my TV viewing with much jumping and flapping on the apex of their roof pretty much in my line of sight. One managed to stay airborn fror 3-4 seconds while it or another 'flew' 3-4 metres.

view north from Rackham Hill
Yellowhammer singing its head off

holiday traffic adding to congestion around the A27 flyover
Thursday 20 July. The three young Great Black-backed Gulls were still on their roof with bouts of jumping and flapping in the evening. I've not seen both adults on the roof together for a while now although one is usually there or thereabouts. Just one Swift was seen overhead.

Wednesday 19 July. I visited Pulborough seeing 4 Green and a Common Sandpiper on the North Brooks - not something it is easy to do with Cookie. A few small birds on the heathland included 1-2 adult Spotted Flycatchers with 2 juveniles, 2 Nuthatches and 3 Treecreepers. The three young Great Black-backed Gulls were still on their roof although the night's storm appeared to have dislodged some if the sticks from their abandoned nest.
young Green Woodpecker at Pulborough
Great Black-backed Gull playing with sticks, presumably from their nest


Tuesday 18 July. The three young Great Black-backed Gulls were still on their roof, usually with one adult keep an eye on them from the next roof over. Seven Swifts over the road in the evening.

Monday 17 July.  A Peregrine flew behind Southwick Power Station as I was cycling home form work. The three young Great Black-backed Gulls were still on their roof, pestering an adult when it came in with food. Fifteen Swifts over the road in the evening.

Sunday 16 July. I took Cookie fromn Cuckoo's Corner up to Dace Gardens and back. Birds seen included Sparrowhawk, 2 Common Sandpipers on the river, 100+ Swifts, 45 Swallows, 6 House Martins, 2 Sedge Warblers (2 Reeds were also heard) and 7 Reed Buntings. The three young Great Black-backed Gulls were still on their roof with an adult nearby. Seventeen Swifts over the house in the evening.
Common Sandpiper at Dacre Gardens

Cookie drinking from a puddle

Kestrel near Cuckoo's Corner
Reed Bunting with grasshopper
Saturday 15 July. I took Cookie up to Mill Hill seeing single Swift, Whitethroat and Blackcap and 4 Sky Larks. Later 3 Little Egrets and a Redshank were on the Adur along with a few Herring and Black-headed Gulls while 2 Greenfinches were the most notable birds along Southwick Canal. The three young Great Black-backed Gulls were still on their roof with an adult nearby. Twelve Swifts over the garden in the evening.
Lancing Ring and Steep Down from Mill Hill
juvenile Herring Gull on the Adur, any hopes it might be a Yellow-legged were deflated by its tertials

two of the Great Black-backed Gulls on their roof

Friday, 14 July 2017

early July

Friday 14 July. We walked a circuit from Lancing Ring to Cowbottom, Coombes and Steep Down - a lovely cloudy Summer day with a nice breeze. We saw at least 130 Swifts, many feeding over a pea field, with 20 Swallows, 15 House Martins and 2 Sand Martins. A Redstart flushed from a hedgerow was unexpected although 3 Buzzards and 2 Ravens were less so. Steep Down produced 15 Corn Buntings and a few Sky Larks. Back home the Great Black-backed Gull youngsters remained on their roof.

Megan and Cookie on the Downs near Cowbottom
Steep Down
Swifts and House Martins over a pea field
Swifts over Coombes
female Kestrel
Painted Lady
Small Tortoiseshell
Corn Bunting on Steep Down

looking East from Steep Down
the Rampion Windfarm from Steep Down, 61 turbines erected so far
Thursday 13 July. A Peregrine over the lock-gates as I was cycling home from work. A lot of flapping from the young Great Black-backed Gulls in the evening, quite distracting while watching TV, but they remain on the original roof.

Wednesday 12 July. At least 25 Gannets were offshore of Shoreham Harbour when I took Cookie down for an early walk. While there a Grey Heron flew east and 6 Swifts west but that was as exciting as it got. Widewater had just the Mute Swan family (with 4 cygnets) and 3 Little Egrets and there were only a handful of Black-headed and Herring Gulls on the Adur. More flapping from the juvenile Great Black-backed Gulls and at least 7 Swifts over the road as I cycled up to a late appointment with the nurse. She finally cleared my ears of wax, an attempt on Monday morning being only partly successful. Nice to hear properly out of my good ear again and even the duff one was slightly better for not being full of wax!
Gannets and wind turbines from Shoreham Harbour

Worthing Pier from Shoreham Harbour
view east from Shoreham Fort
Belle Tout Lighthouse from Shoreham Fort
Sunday 9 July. A walk along West Worthing beach towards Goring Gap produced just a single Sandwich Tern before we gave up and headed to Highdown Hill where male Bullfinch and Yellowhammer saved the day. One of the young Great Black-backed Gulls tried its first flaps on the ridge of the roof opposite - a few jumps made it a quite comical affair.
Cookie at Highdown trig point
first flaps
and a jump
hungry work for young gulls
Saturday 8 July. Before breakfast I took Cookie to Shoreham Fort (1 Little Egret) and the Adur (2 Little Egrets, 3 Oystercatches, 40 Herring Gulls and a Reed Warbler). Later I took Cookie up to Lancing Ring and we walked around Steep Down. Lovely views as usual, lots of butterflies, and I saw 28 Corn Buntings, 6 Sky Larks, 4 Whitethroats and 4 Linnets. A Sparrowhawk flew over Eastern Avenue as I drove down to the station to collect Megan.
Steep Down from Lancing Ring
Whitethroat at Steep Down
looking East from Steep Down

Truleigh Hill from Steep Down

Corn Bunting at Steep Down

Corn Bunting
Lancing Ring from Steep Down
Peacock - one of the brightest I can remember seein 

Friday 7 July. The Amur Falcon was back and we decided to go. It seemed a good idea at the time and it was still being seen when we rendezvoused in Lancing but with no sightings for nearly two hours we stopped in a lay-by west of Dorchester to await developments. There were none and after 90 minutes we gave up and drove home. Nine hours away, 7.5 driving, much in heavy traffic, and 1.5 sat in a lay-by next to the busy A31. Not a great day with 5 Buzzards, a Swallow, 2 House Martins and a Jay all I had to show for it. At least I was home to check up on the Great Black-backed Gulls - 3 youngsters and both adults - and again 7 Swifts over the garden.

Thursday 6 July. At least two of the young Great Black-backed Gulls were visible on the roof of Glebe Close with both adults seen on one occasion. Seven Swifts were over the garden in the evening.  A late found Amur Falcon near Land's End was tempting but JFC, JK and I decided to wait for news, none of us feeling we were up for starting out on a 300 mile drive at 11pm.